Active Voices: Empowering young peacebuilders in the Middle East

In light of the ongoing and protracted Syrian crisis, International Alert together with the British Council and Search for Common Ground Lebanon has launched a youth development and leadership project which aims to connect and inspire positive action among young people in the Middle East.

The EU funded project, called Active Voices, will give youth a voice in national and international conversations about peacebuilding as an antidote to the dominant narrative around the impact of conflict. By bringing together young people from the region and connecting them to youths in Europe, the project will also create international networks of young peacebuilding activists.

The first workshop for the project, which took place last month, brought together a core group of 27 Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian youth. They are the ‘Master Facilitators’ for the project and are responsible for spreading the learning to 400 youth ‘Community Builders’ in 13 different communities, as well as their own.

The workshop taught this core group how to work more efficiently within their communities to find local solutions to issues that challenge them on a daily basis. They also teamed up to build coalitions so that they can start to advocate around common challenges more effectively. This will enable them to relate their everyday community experiences to wider political and policy priorities at the national and international level.

During the workshop, the ‘Master Facilitators’ were trained on a number of areas including facilitation and group-building skills, community mobilisation, mapping of community assets, and communication skills. The young people involved discussed their civil society and humanitarian backgrounds, and showed a keen interest in learning how they can advocate and influence opinion formers to create positive change.

“I am very excited to be part of the Active Voices project. As a Master Facilitator, I am keen on passing all of the newly acquired knowledge to the Community Builders”, said Noura, a 23-year-old Architecture graduate. “Together we will be able to establish a strong network we can rely on, a network of young change makers who will be able to make a difference.”

The project will run for two and a half years, and the learning journey all young people involved are now embarking on will empower them to inspire change in their communities and countries. The next workshop for the ‘Master Facilitators’ takes place in January and will focus on advocacy and action research.

Find out more about Active Voices.